Retinol; The Skincare Superstar

Posted by Azadeh Shirazi MD on

Let’s talk about retinol. As one of the most well-known ingredients in anti-ageing skincare, retinol is a superstar and deserves all the attention. Dr. Azi answers the most commonly asked retinol questions in this mini blog. 

First, who can use retinol?

Retinols can be used by almost anyone.  The key is using it the right way. For those with sensitive skin, Dr. Azi suggests starting low and going slow. Retinyl Palmitate is the lightest form. She calls it the camomile tea version since it has to be converted three times to have an effect on the skin. Retinol OTC is also gentle, offered in varying concentrations, but more of a green tea. Retinaldehyde is a step up, a black tea version suitable for those who aren’t quite ready for prescription strength, but looking for a step up from retinol. 

How do I incorporate retinol into my skin regime?

Dr. Azi has her sensitive skin patients break up their night time routine into two parts. Cleanse and moisturize first earlier in the evening, then later closer to bedtime apply your retinol on its own. The reason being your skin goes into receiving the retinol cleansed and well hydrated therefore tolerating it better. I also suggest starting off every other night and slowly going to nightly.

Best retinol tips?

It’s important that you minimize other products in your regimen when starting a retinol. Limit the use of exfoliants and other actives, such as glycolic or salicylic acid, highly concentrated vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, or toners until your skin adapts to the retinol before adding in other products. The less products you use the better when you incorporate a retinol in your skincare regimen. It’s best to use a gentle cleanser, an SPF day cream, and a supportive moisturizer such as Intense Recovery Complex, designed to support and repair the skin barrier. 

*Intense Recovery Complex

Dr. Azi’s retinol favorites:

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Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, MD is a Board-Certified Dermatologist.

Specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Shirazi received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University Of Kentucky College of Medicine. After doing a Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, she completed her residency training in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in addition to completing her training in dermatology and cosmetic surgery at the University of California San Diego.

She has received multiple research scholarships from iconic institutions including Harvard University and the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has several peer-reviewed publications to her name.